Construction starts within weeks on the project with an expected 400 jobs from this month and CS Energy has struck a deal to buy the output from the farm. India-based contractor Sterling and Wilson has been appointed to build the project.
The cost of large scale solar PV farms has fallen dramatically in recent years from $135 a megawatt hour (MWh) in 2015 to an expected $44.50 – $61.50 per MWh in 2020, according to the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.
The reduction has been driven by a combination of international and local improvements and should continue.
Energy Minister Dr Anthony Lynham today announced that Hana Financial Investment would build the 162 megawatt Columboola Solar Farm between Chinchilla and Miles after the UK-based project developers, Luminous Energy, announced financial close on the solar farm project and its concurrent sale to Hana.
The project was initially about double the size when it won development approval in 2017.
A capital cost of the project has not been disclosed and it follows the State Government’s decision to start a program of subsidising renewable projects built within three declared renewable energy zones in Queensland.
“Queensland has an economic plan for post-COVID recovery and affordable, reliable energy supply underpins that plan,” Dr Lynham said.
“That plan includes investing in traditional infrastructure and supporting the renewables industry because that supports jobs.
“With the government’s new renewable energy zone initiative for South-West Queensland, Columboola is set to be followed by ongoing new renewable energy projects and jobs.”
The Columboola Solar Farm takes Queensland’s tally of financially committed or operational large-scale renewable energy projects to 41 since 2015.
CS Energy will buy 100 per cent of the output of the solar farm and on-sell it to its large commercial and industrial retail customers, including Griffith University, CQUniversity and QUT.
CS Energy and Queensland’s two other publicly-owned generators, CleanCo and Stanwell, have now supported or own 1900 MW of renewable energy generation.
CS Energy CEO Andrew Bills said CS Energy was responding to the needs of large energy users like the universities by developing tailored solutions that met their needs in terms of energy usage, decarbonisation and energy management.
“Through this PPA CS Energy continues to diversify our portfolio and offer our retail customers renewable generation as part of their energy supply,” Mr Bills said.
“We’re excited to facilitate further renewable energy development in Queensland and help move the state closer to achieving its goal of 50 per cent renewables by 2030.”
The Columboola Solar Farm will feature solar technology such as bifacial panels that absorb light from both the front and the back, and single axis trackers that follow the sun.